Go! for Lent: John 14:2-3
Each Holy Week, as I read the scriptures leading to Gethsemane, the Last Supper, and inevitably the cross, I am aware of Jesus’ care for those who have been with him along the way: The disciples who left everything, the women who learned and traveled with him, and the many who joined him as he prayed and healed and spoke out against corrupt authority. They were a motley crew, folks of every sort drawn by Jesus’ transforming life and message. As the end drew near, the comforting words from John’s gospel assure that his presence among them ( and us) does not end with his death. He is going to prepare a place…. But also coming back ! And in his presence there is room for everyone.
In the small southern town where I grew up, there was a ministry center called Many Mansions. It’s name was taken from John 14, the King James Version translation for”dwelling places”. Many Mansions provided drop in child care, job training, food, clothing, housing assistance, or just a cup of coffee, air conditioning in summer and chairs for resting tired bones. My mother was a volunteer and brought me along from time to time. In my child’s eye view, this work was what Sunday church people did during the week. If Jesus was going to prepare a place for everyone in heaven, I thought, then we had to follow along and make sure that we fulfilled that same purpose here on earth.
Funded by all the churches, Many Mansions exhibited Christian unity that often was not seen in the denominational and racial segregation of Sunday morning. All were welcome whatever their faith or need. And Jesus’ life and teaching made it so.
These days, we often hear John’s comforting words at funerals, assuring us that Jesus has gone before to prepare the way at the end of life. But it is also a text for living here and now. The promise of Jesus’ words are of his comforting presence in our living as well as in our dying. The place where Jesus dwells assures us there is room for all sorts and conditions of folk ….. including me.